Imran Chaudhri

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Imran Chaudhri
Imran Chaudhri 2017.jpg
Born1973 (age 45–46)
Apple Advanced Technology Group (1995-97)
Director of Design,
Apple Human Interface Team (1998-2017)
Years active1995-present
Known foriPhone, multitouch

Imran Chaudhri (born 1973) is a British-American designer, best known for inventing the "groundbreaking user interface" and interactions of the iPhone.[1] While at Apple from 1995 to 2017,[2] he had key roles as a user interface designer and director of design working on products including the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch.

Early life[edit]

Chaudhri was born in London, England.[3] After interning with the Apple Advanced Technology Group, he began working there full-time.[4]


Chaudhri arrived at Apple in 1995, and spent 19 years with the Human Interface team, ultimately becoming the team's director of design.[5] He and fellow designer Bas Ording met at Apple in the late-1990s, and soon after Chaudhri joined Ording on the User Interface team. As leaders of Apple's UI team, they updated the look and feel of the Mac operating system, working on pulsating buttons, animated progress bars, and a glossy, transparent look "that rejuvenated the appeal of the Mac."[3] In The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, author Brian Merchant calls Chaudhri and Ording "UI's Lennon and McCartney."[4] Their user interface design was an inviting and intuitive experience[6] as they came up with "the blueprint for a new brand of computing, laying the basic foundation with pleasant, even addictive, flourishes."[4] They worked for years on building a new interface based entirely on touch. Some of the features they came up with included replacing a magnifying glass icon with pinch to zoom, and being able to flick the screen instead of clicking and dragging to scroll.[4] Chaudhri is named as an inventor on Apple's patent for touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface, which covers functional aspects of multitouch screens such as the ones found in smart devices like the iPhone and iPad.[7]

Chaudhri was a member of the original six-person iPhone design team.[8] He previously led the design for Dashboard on the Mac, which was full of widgets that would be ideal for the phone.[9] His early idea for the phone was "all about having these widgets in your pocket."[10] The iPhone's rectilinear app icon design also came from Chaudhri.[10] After much experimentation, Chaudhri came up with the grid of apps as a way to organize the iPhone's functions, which came to be called SpringBoard. He had the industrial design team make a few wooden iPhone mockups to figure out the optimal size of the icons for a finger's touch.[9] He is credited as the sole inventor of the jiggling effect during user interface reconfiguration mode.[11] Chaudhri and Ording originally built the iPhone's user interface using Adobe Photoshop and Director. Chaudhri likened it to "building a Frank Gehry piece out of aluminum foil," calling it "the biggest hack of all time."[2] Prior to working on a finger-controlled touchscreen for the iPhone, they initially built a crude mock-up to show that a finger-controlled tablet would work, as well as an "iPod-plus-phone that could create text messages with a predictive text system." Chaudhri was among those named on Apple's patent as an inventor.[12] Chaudhri and designer Freddy Anzures had been working on the unlock concept for iPhone to prevent accidental activations. While on an airplane and observing how the bathroom stall had a slide to lock/unlock feature, Anzures thought to apply that concept to the touchscreen. Chaudhri tested a prototype with his baby daughter. When she was able to slide to unlock, he knew the feature would be universal.[6] Chaudhri is credited as one of the inventors on the patent granted to Apple for the slide to unlock gesture.[13] According to Merchant, the touch-based phone, which was originally supposed to be nothing but screen, was going to need at least one button, and Steve Jobs was convinced that, in addition to the home button, the iPhone would also need a back button for navigation. Chaudhri convinced Jobs otherwise, arguing that, in order to generate "trust and predictability" there must simply be "one button that does the same thing every time you press it: it shows you your stuff."[14][15]

During his tenure at Apple, Chaudhri had his name on a multitude of patents, most concerning user interaction with devices including the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and other computing peripherals.[16][17][18] His patent for a 3D desktop included a three-dimensional desktop defining a depth aspect, which may include a viewing surface, a back surface disposed at a terminus of depth aspect, and a floor surface extending from the back surface to the viewing surface.[19] His patent for a graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof, which covers the icon layout that appears on the iPhone, was one of three patents that were the centerpiece of a lawsuit between Apple and Samsung to determine how much Samsung should pay Apple for infringing on three of its design patents covering early versions of the iPhone. In 2016, Samsung was ordered to pay $399 million in damages.[20][21] Chaudhri is a named inventor alongside Steve Jobs on Apple's iPod patent, which covers the hierarchically ordered GUI, including its "home".[17] Many of his patents were featured as part of a 2012 exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution, The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Technology that Changed the World.[22]

He has spoken at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference for software developers. In 2001, Chaudhri spoke about how to design for Aqua, the Mac OS X user interface.[23] He was also a speaker at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote event in 2016. He and Bethany Bongiorno demonstrated new features in Apple's Messages app that launched in iOS 10.[24][25] The lineup was noted for being more diverse than at previous WWDC events.[26]

Chaudhri left Apple in early 2017[15][27], to form his own hardware/software company.[citation needed]

Further reading[edit]

  • Kahney, Leander. Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2013. ISBN 978-1591846178
  • Merchant, Brian. The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2017. ISBN 978-0316546164

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brian Merchant, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2017, p. 373.
  2. ^ a b Zach Ezer, "Five Things You Might Not Know From 'The Secret History of the iPhone'," Gizmodo, June 22, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Merchant, The One Device, p. 15.
  4. ^ a b c d Merchant, The One Device, pp. 24-28.
  5. ^ Yoni Heisler, "Steve Jobs wanted the original iPhone to have a permanent 'back button' like Android," BGR, June 19, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Merchant, The One Device, pp. 336-39.
  7. ^ Mikey Campbell, "Apple's multitouch 'Steve Jobs patent' revalidated in full by USPTO," AppleInsider, October 17, 2013.
  8. ^ Brian Merchant, "What is the iPhone? 10 Years In, Its Creators and Chroniclers Explain," Motherboard, June 29, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Brian Merchant, "The Secret Origin Story of the iPhone," The Verge, June 13, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Merchant, The One Device, p. 209.
  11. ^ "Apple Granted 19 Patents Covering the iPhone, iOS, Folder Management, the UI Jiggle Effect & Much More," Patently Apple, April 16, 2013.
  12. ^ Leander Kahney, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2013, pp. 213-18
  13. ^ "Slide to Unlock? Patented!" 9to5Mac, October 25, 2011.
  14. ^ "The iPhone Might Never Have Existed If Steve Jobs Had His Way," Esquire, June 21, 2017.
  15. ^ a b James Titcomb, "Steve Jobs wanted a 'back button' on the original iPhone, designer claims," The Telegraph, June 20, 2017.
  16. ^ Shan Carter, "Steve Jobs's Patents," New York Times, November 23, 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Apple Wins Major iPod User Interface & Systems Patents," Patently Apple, May 29, 2012.
  18. ^ "Apple inventions for 'Home App' and the Apple Watch Feature known as 'Scribble' Surface at U.S. Patent Office," Patently Apple, December 18, 2017.
  19. ^ "Apple Files Patent Showing Signs that a 3D GUI May Still be Alive," Patently Apple, April 9, 2015.
  20. ^ Graphical user interface for a display screen or portion thereof, Google Patents, June 23, 2007.
  21. ^ Jeff John Roberts, "These 3 Apple Patents Go Before the Supreme Court on Tuesday," Fortune, October 10, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Technology that Changed the World," Smithsonian, May 11, 2012.
  23. ^ Apple WWDC 2001 Session 130 – Designing and Using Aqua Icons, 2001.
  24. ^ Meg Graham, "Meet the people behind Apple's most diverse event yet," Chicago Tribune, June 14, 2016.
  25. ^ Killian Bell, "Original iPhone design team reunites for 10th anniversary," Cult of Mac, January 12, 2017.
  26. ^ Noah Kulwin, "Apple's WWDC 2016 onstage lineup was more diverse than it has ever been," Recode, June 13, 2016.
  27. ^ Merchant, The One Device, p. 376.